U.S. News carried an article reporting that in a recent study, researchers have identified minute amounts of cancer (organoids) in fallopian tube tissue. The significance of the discovery is that ovarian cancer, the primary cause of gynecologic cancer deaths in the U.S., may be detected earlier, perhaps even years in advance.
Ovarian cancer forms in tissues of the ovary or in the fallopian tubes and peritoneum (abdomen lining). Since its symptoms are subtle, many tumors are not discovered until they have spread to other areas.
About the Study
The scientists modeled fallopian tube tissue by using blood samples and stem cells donated by patients who previously had ovarian cancer and BRCA-1 mutations.
Mutations in the BRCA-1 gene indicate an increased risk of breast and other types of cancer. People with these mutations are subject to a 35% to 70% ovarian cancer risk versus a 2% risk for the general population.
Upon examining the newly modeled fallopian tube tissue, the team discovered indications of ovarian cancer. Dr. Clive Svendsen, the author of the study, explained that their data supports research that suggests ovarian cancer begins with lesions in the linings of the fallopian tubes. He said that if they can detect the abnormalities early, that would vastly improve the chances of halting the spread of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Svendsen said that some women, after receiving a diagnosis of BRCA mutations, have decided to have their breasts, fallopian tubes, and ovaries removed surgically to avoid a cancer diagnosis.
About BRCA-1 Organoids
Nur Yucer, Svendsen lab project scientist and first author of the study, explained that their findings pertained to cancer development in organoids from BRCA-1 and not from BRCA-2 patients. Their modeling demonstrated the way ovarian cancer begins in the fallopian tubes of patients with BRCA-1 mutations.
He further explained that the created tissues (organoids) are identical to the patient’s fallopian tube tissues because the organoids include the genes from those who donated the blood samples.
Dr. Svendsen said that the researchers will be able to decide whether a drug will be effective before exposing the patient to the drug.
Jeffrey Golden, M.D., vice research dean at Cedars Sinai, said that these findings will provide lifesaving detection for those with the BRCA-1 mutation as well as create individualized prevention and treatment strategies.
Dr. Svendsen added that the created organoids have the potential to predict which women will develop ovarian cancer years in advance.